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Difficulties with Seniors Giving up Smoking and Drinking


Alcohol-Abuse-On-SeniorsGiving up those vices detrimental to our physical and mental health is a tough uphill battle that many of us struggle with on a daily basis.  Whether it is an addiction to illegal substances like meth or marijuana, or a struggle to break free from the throngs of alcohol and tobacco, kicking addictions is, well, not so simple.  In a recent study published in the “Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological and Social Sciences,” researchers found that the vast majority of older adults who learn they have a chronic condition do not adopt healthier behaviors. (MedicalNewsToday)  For seniors, whose negative health habits have been ingrained with constant use and the passage of time, making healthy life choices in the wake of a health scare is a recipe for difficult change.

Lead researcher, Jason T. Newsom, PhD at Portland State University, “sought to determine to what degree these older adults modified their smoking, drinking, and exercise behaviors after the diagnosis of heart disease, cancer, stroke, respiratory disease, and diabetes.” (MedicalNewsToday)  Whereas one might be inclined to believe that a major health scare would help change an individual’s attitude towards creating a healthier lifestyle, the study found quite the opposite in the patients’ behaviors of which it studied over a period of time.  For example, the study found that many patients refused medical advice to include a healthy exercise regimen into one’s life following a life-changing event such as a heart attack or coronary disease.  Though the resulting exercise would present health benefits that would help decrease the likelihood of the prevalence of returning health dangers, senior patients showed an aversion to exercise despite the plausible benefits of physical activity.

Studying alcohol consumption in recovering alcoholics the study found that subjects did little to decrease the amount they drank following health complications from drinking.  Though the numbers suggest that alcoholics drank slightly less after having a health scare, researchers assumed those in danger of health related alcohol problems, such as liver cancer, would drastically reduce their drinking.  Herein lies the grips addiction has on our lives.  Despite knowing that we should no longer partake in behaviors threatening our livelihood and health, we continue to do damaging things further hurting our already fragile health.

I sometimes wonder if the state of my physical health is so already depleted by my years of addiction that I will someday inevitably be faced with health concerns that were my own doing, despite my current sobriety and healthier lifestyle.  Yet, I do understand why people do not change their behaviors immediately following a health scare.  If you are an addict, it takes a lot more than the precautions given you be a medical profession to kick a dirty, nasty little habit.  Maybe if every time I saw my doctor he would tell me, “What you’re currently doing is going to kill you…tomorrow,” I would be less inclined to discontinue my destructive ways.  Yet, addicts are the highest evolved creatures of nature and breaking our patterns of abuse is like trying to climb Mt. Everest in one day: it can’t be done.  Seniors may also be more inclined to accept their lot in life and changing patterns based on years of abuse may almost seem trivial and pointless, health conditions be damned.  I hope everything I am doing now in my youth will help to change the patterns of my life that will serve me well in my years to come before becoming a senior citizen.



MedicalNewsToday. Smoking, Drinking Very Difficult for Seniors with Serious Illnesses to Give Up. n.d. <>.


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Filed under: Recovery, Research · Tags: Alcohol Abuse, alcohol abuse in senior citizens, elderly alcohol abuse, senior citizen, seniors, seniors drug abuse is operated by Recovery Brands LLC, a subsidiary of American Addiction Centers, Inc.
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